A Word for Self-Professing Christian Leadership Goo-Roos

Over the last five years of pastoral ministry I cannot count the number of times a man with a card passed his information to me about coaching me in leadership. As a pastor who pulls his Bible out in a public place — for instance a cafe like Starbucks or Panera — I’m an instant target for those who are looking to coach others. But rarely have these people ever met the litmus test I give for Christian Leadership Goo-Roos.

It’s a five question process that I use to measure whether the person is qualified to lead not just me but also others. On more than one occasion, I’ve asked this person: how long have you been doing this? Usually, I hear that they just started. That’s a red flag, but it’s a common one.

Let me tell you, if you can’t answer these five questions for the person you wish to coach, then you probably shouldn’t coach that person. If you can’t answer these questions at all, then you might want to rethink being a self-proclaimed Christian leadership goo-roo. They really are few and far between.

Here are my five questions with explanations:

1) Have You Led Longer Than I?

Though I’ve only been a full-time pastor for five years, I’ve served in Christian Leadership for fifteen years over all. I’ve served in a number of capacities. I served as the GM of Campus Dining Services at Dallas Seminary for five years while putting myself through seminary. Meanwhile, I functioned as a ministry head of a Jr. High Youth Ministry for five years and completed a number of internships now over my career.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn. Though Christian leadership is part of my DNA, I know I’m a limping leader. So much so that I wouldn’t pretend to say that I’m a goo-roo in leadership. I look to men like Al Mohler — who served as an editorial director and now as the President of the largest seminary in the world — to mentor me in leadership. I look for people with much greater capacity to lead, like Matt Perman, who is an expert in productivity.

If that’s the case for a guy who’s been leading at some capacity for fifteen years, then I think any person who intends to create a career out of Christian leadership consultation should think long and carefully about this commitment.

Age really doesn’t have anything to do with this. Perman is much younger, maybe only a few years older than I, whereas, Mohler is much more mature than either Perman or I. What counts is how long you’ve been leading and at what capacity.

If you’ve been a Christian Leader for fewer than five years and have not led a large organization, then you might not be the leadership goo-roo you think you are.

2) Are You Educated?

If you’re coaching someone in leadership, I’d like to think you have a Master of Arts or maybe even a Doctorate of Ministry in this discipline. That seems to be a reasonable expectation. These days seminaries have leadership tracks in their graduate programs. I still don’t really know what that means, and if I ever would have studied that track in graduate level education. But these leadership tracks exist; those who think that leadership is their gig should consider pursuing these educational tracks.

Regardless of proper education, leadership goo-roos should be widely read and studied in the area of leadership. If they don’t know who Robert Clinton is, I’d be concerned. At the same time, reading John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Andy Stanley, Al Mohler, and Matt Perman does not necessarily make you a leader. I’ve read all those books, and like I said, I’m a limping leader at best. Longevity and presence in leadership is far more critical than reading a few books.

3) Are You Still Leading?

Leading longer and being more educated is big, but nothing is bigger than still leading. I’m always leary of consultants who are not presently leading. You have to be exceptional as a leader or in a unique transition to successfully make a long or short-term career as a leadership coach. If coaching is not something you are doing on the side, but it is your full-time gig, then you might be out of the leadership game. This, in my mind, makes you not qualified to coach leaders.

However, if you’re like my pastor, who is committed to coaching young leaders, while he pastors, then you might be the right kind of coach. That’s exactly why I’m I am doing my church planting internship where I’m doing it; Joe Thorn is the right kind of leader for me.

4) Are You Asking for a Fee?

I think coaching leaders is something leaders do, and charging a fee is not the way to do it. Older pastors should just lead younger pastors. Older non-for-prof leaders should just lead younger non-for-prof leaders. Leadership training needs to be more organic and less mechanic.

If someone walked up to me tomorrow and said, “Hey you served in youth ministry for a baker’s dozen years. Would you coach me in youth ministry?” I wouldn’t hesitate to exuberantly say, “Yes!”, and to do it for free. Of course, I’ve only got time to do one or two of those, which is precisely what my pastor does himself.

Few people have the time to sit down with a leadership coach let alone write a check to one as well. Most of us can build in a little margin to read a $10 book like Leaders Who Last by Dave Craft, Conviction to Lead by Al Mohler, or What’s Best Next by Matt Perman. Not many of us have $50-100 to cough up for a half-hour coffee with someone, especially if that person spends more time just chatting it up then focusing on leadership development.

5) What Is Your Leadership Presence?

Are you known publicly for leadership. Do you have a thriving, active multi-platform social media network? Do you have a written presence? Do you blog? Do you contribute to recognized Christian print or digital media? Do you go to conferences and keep up with what is going on not just in your niche of leadership but also the wider evangelical cultural environ? If I went to conferences and talked to my friends about you, would you be a known commodity? What would people say?

These are important considerations to ascertain whether a person is a qualified Christian leadership goo-roo.

Conclusion

Quite honestly, anyone can walk into a room or sit across the table from you with sticky notes, a marker board, and help you chart out your leadership or organizational vision. Anyone who has read a book or two can do this. It doesn’t take much to be a self-proclaimed leadership goo-roo.

Obviously, these metrics that I’ve used for myself are pretty superficial. But that’s how it goes at first. A leader’s character and credibility is measured over time. Up until that time passes, I have to lean on other’s words. But I’m just warning you, very few people are truly qualified to make a career out of being a Christian leadership consultant. Anyone can print up some business cards on Vista Print and start a wordpress site, few can make it last.

In 2013, during my year of transition from youth ministry into church planting, I met Dave Jewitt. Dave is a local Christian leader and coach in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He met all of my criteria.

He coached me through his curriculum, Your One Degree. He’s created a network of coaches, men who volunteer to lead other men to develop biblical purpose. Jewitt, though not so much trying to help people lead, as he helps people find their one purpose, played an invaluable role in my life for a few months. I’m forever grateful for him, and his generosity to give time and interest in a young leader.

Dave is able to do what he does because he has a board of directors that fully fund his ministry. He’s been elevated to his role of leadership because he selflessly helped many men over the course of twenty years. Those men give him the freedom to shine at what he does.

Those kind of leadership coaches are rare. There is certainly a place for them in Christian culture. But for the most part, all us other limping leaders need to create margin and capacity to develop leaders as we go. That’s the best way that we’ll help the next generation of Christian leaders.

View-Worthy: 11.26.14

Preview

Ferguson Burns, Honoring Singles, Holiday Expectations, Bored with Blogs.

Headliner

 Lynde Langdon and Leigh Jones. Ferguson Burns After Protests Turn Violent. (WORLD)

Protestors in Ferguson, Mo., smashed windows, looted businesses, and burned buildings and cars last night after officials announced a grand jury voted not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

By midnight, angry orange flames rose from a beauty supply store, a storage facility, two auto parts stores, and a pizza restaurant while police in riot gear used tear gas and smoke bombs to disperse crowds. Two police cars set alight earlier in the evening sparked and flared for several hours as the flames consumed ammunition stored in their trunks.

Deal of the Day

Gospel by J D Greear $2.99

Book Review

Timothy Keller. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Reviewed by Aaron Armstrong.

Links

Matt Smethurst. How To Honor and Encourage the Singles in Your Church. (TGC)

Today there are more single adults in America than married ones—and the number is not shrinking. What can pastors and church members do to honor and care for singles in their midst?

“Singleness is not monolithic,” Carolyn McCulley explains in a new roundtable video with Jennifer Marshall and Betsy Childs. “It’s helpful to minister based on life stage more than on marital status. A single 50-year-old is very different than a single 20-year-old.”

Liz Holst. Holiday Expectation Management. (DG)

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or is it?

Thanksgiving is upon us, and Christmas just around the corner, and with this coupling come lots of expectations. For years I wrestled with how to navigate the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas with some semblance of sanity. Truth is, I still struggle with managing “the Holidays” well. Who will be home? What are the lingering family tensions? How can I make it special for friends who will walk through the front door? The questions, and stresses, go on and on.

Mike Leake. I’m Bored with Blogs.

Blogs are starting to bore me.

I realized this after taking a month off from blogging. Because of my hiatus I had thousands of articles stored up on my Feedly list. Sifting through these I realized how little of substance is actually being said in blogs.

And so I’m bored.

It feels like the same people saying the same things in the same way. And those of us that are also curators (having features like Today in Blogworld) are guilty of perpetuating this. I confess that I’ve shared articles from known commodities without really reading through the article and considering all the implications. I like the title. I trust the author. So I link to it. That isn’t helpful. And I’m sorry.

Edify

2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

“A belief in strictly verbal inspiration will indeed make all Scripture a book by a single Author.” C S Lewis

John Flavel on Sinful Speech

SinfulSpeechBy now you figured it out, I’m on a Puritan binge. It’s been really all year. I just don’t share about it all the time. This last year interning with Joe Thorn has been a huge blessing as I’ve learned not just to read the Puritans but to think and pastor like one in the present.

Keeping guard over our speech and protecting the holiness of it is critical. One of the visible signs that evidenced my confession of faith as a young man was how my speech changed. I stopped being vulgar and uncouth.

I’ve often thought about the importance of the commandment not to take the Lord’s name in vain. However, I’ve rarely considered the danger of swearing by any other name. Thankfully, this is not normal practice of mine. Still, this passage arrested my attention the other day as I read the Pocket Puritan book from Banner of Truth on Sinful Speech by John Flavel.

Here the excerpt:

It is yet worse (and indeed not a jot below blasphemy) to swear by any other name, than the name of God: for in so doing, they attribute to a creature the sovereign and incommunicable property of God, set that creature in the very throne of God, and invest it with the regalities of his omniscience, to know our hearts, and almighty power, to avenge the wrong upon us, done to himself, as well as to men, by false swearing

But to break in rudely and blasphemously upon the sacred and tremendous name of God, with bold and full-mouthed oaths, striking through his sacred name with direct insulting blasphemies; this argues an heart, from which all fear of God is utterly expelled and banished.

 

View-Worthy: 11.25.14

Preview

Child Trafficking, Moore on Ferguson, Jesus Genie, Christmas in Light of Easter, Family Devotionals.

Headliner

Joe Carter. 7 Figures: Trafficking in Children on the Increase. (Acton)

Today the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) released their 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons.

“Unfortunately, the report shows there is no place in the world where children, women and men are safe from human trafficking,” said UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov “Official data reported to UNODC by national authorities represent only what has been detected. It is very clear that the scale of modern-day slavery is far worse.”

Here are seven figures you should know from the latest report…

Deal of the Day

Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community by David Powlison FREE

Book Review

Peter Leithart. Gratitude: An Intellectual History. Reviewed by Ben Rhodes. (Ref21)

Links

Russell Moore. Ferguson and the Path to Peace.

The mood in Ferguson, Missouri, is tense, after a grand jury decided against indicting a police officer for the killing of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown. The tension ought to remind us, as the church, that we are living in a time in which racial division is hardly behind us. That reality ought to motivate us as citizens work for justice, but also as the church to seek to embody the kingdom of Christ.

Paul David Tripp. Jesus Genie. (Christianity.com)

Thanksgiving is just days away, so it’s time to start reflecting on what we’re thankful for. After all, we need a few talking points when the question is asked of us at the dinner table.

Yes, I’m being intentionally sarcastic with that statement. We ought to be a people who are thankful 365 days a year, not just when the calendar reminds us to be. Like I wrote last week, dangerous things can happen when you forget the generosity of God.

Michael J DeBoer. Engaging Christmas in the Light of Easter. (Canon and Culture)

‘Tis the season again—the season when “wars” break out over Christmas.

These wars are fought on several fronts. Private businesses and retail stores decide what greetings to use, and pro-Christmas forces counter attack with boycotts and lists of naughty and nice businesses. In public institutional settings, such as public schools and courthouse squares, officials select music pieces for programs and symbols for public displays, and pro-Christmas forces campaign in opposition, sending threatening letters, drafting legal memoranda, and filing lawsuits. In these engagements, the law and the courts can become instruments of force strategically employed in the combat.

Clint Archer. Home Team Huddle: Hints on How to Do Family Devotions.

I have mentioned previously how my wife helped me to man-up and start to lead our family worship times. It was embarrassing that I needed the help, but like with the lady in our GPS unit, I’ve learned not to argue with the voice of reason.

Let me issue this vital disclaimer: I am no expert. I seriously have little to no idea what I’m doing. We haven’t been at this for years, but for the past few months it’s been pretty consistent. And our kids love family worship. They ask for it. That can’t be bad, right?

Edify

Jeremiah 29:12 “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.”

“The Bible is a letter God has sent to us; prayer is a letter we send to him.” Matthew Henry

Real Christian by Todd Wilson

RealChristianThis review first appeared at Lifeway’s Pastors Today web blog.

Bibliography

Todd Wilson. Real Christian: Bearing the Marks of Authentic Faith. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014. 208 pp. $16.99.

Category

Church and Ministry

Summary

Authenticity is a heart craving of post-modernism, and disingenuous efforts to produce it are swiftly sniffed out by others. I like how Todd Wilson puts this: “Nobody likes a fake. Even in our airbrush culture, we despise counterfeits and crave authenticity. Everyone wants to be real. But what does it mean to be real? No one really knows.” (17).

The Church is not without excuse. In evangelical statistics, we hear about self-professing nominal Christians, practical deists by all means. This self-identifying group continues to drop out of the Church and join the burgeoning contingent of religious nones. Lines are becoming statistically clear, yet individuals are just as confused as ever on where they lie on the spectrum of belief.

That’s where Todd Wilson steps in. Wilson has a PhD from Cambridge, cofounds and chairs The Center for Pastor-Theologians, and pastors Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois. With years of shepherding under his belt, he’s seen the spiritual confusion many experience and offers a guide to help diagnose what a real Christian looks like. According to Wilson, “Real is something you can see. There is a visible difference between real and not-real Christians. It’s not enough to say you’re real; you should be able to see you’re real” (19).

This book, Real Christian, is first and foremost a spiritual diagnostic. Inspired by numerous readings of Jonathan Edward’s classic treatise, Religious Affections, Wilson follows Edward’s structure in Real Christian by presenting six marks of real Christians: humility (chpt. 3), meekness (chpt. 4), contrition (chpt. 5), wholeness (chpt. 6), hunger (chpt. 7), and perfected love (chpt. 8). Readers sit alongside the good Dr. Wilson, who diagnoses their hearts because, as he asserts, “A transformed heart is what gives rise to all the marks of real – from humility to hunger. And nothing else but a new heart can do this” (35).

Benefit for Pastoral Ministry

This book isn’t so much about a pressing issue in the church – though, true enough, diagnosing authentic faith is a challenge today – as it is about spiritual formation. Wilson is not banging a large pot with a metal spoon over his head crying, “You’re not real Christians!” If that image comes to mind, cast it aside. Real Christian offers a portrait of real faith: life-changing, influential faith that points to Christ. This kind of faith is a lasting faith – one that overcomes every threat – for as Wilson points out about real Christians: “They hold on to the faith tenaciously” (174).

Don’t let Wilson’s PhD credentials fool you into believing Real Christian is a stuffy, labyrinthine, academic tome. The writing is surely elegant, but more importantly, it is reader-friendly. Wilson’s use of anecdote aids readers to both connect to the author in winsome fashion and effectually grip each mark of real Christians.

For instance, chapter three’s explanation of humility kicks off with a story from Wilson’s academic days at Cambridge. Upon completing his studies, he attended a gathering where a rather “quintessentially British gentleman” asked him how he would use his degree. After hearing that Wilson would pastor in America, the gentlemen commented that this role was anticlimactic for a Cambridge man.

Here’s how Wilson processed this response:

“I was like a drowning man groping for a life preserver, clinging to the prerogatives and prestige of my Cambridge PhD. I watched as it slipped away, leaving me to sink under the weight of my own vanity and pride. It was a humbling experience, and it didn’t feel all that good.” (55)

I think we all relate to this sentiment. Yet, as Wilson explains, a self-deprecating, Mr. Milquetoast attitude is not true humility. Humility is a posture that produces love. “Humility is not letting who you are hinder you from loving others” (58). That’s just looking briefly at the first mark, which is a splendid pacesetter for the rest of Real Christian.

Real Christian may be one of the most practical books I’ve seen in recent years; it’s a book for every believer to read. I do not recommend many books on spiritual living these days, outside of some classics. I’m recommending this one to friends and family this coming year. I think it stands in like category with Don’t Waste Your Life by Piper, Not A Fan by Idleman, or Radical by Platt. If I were a youth pastor, I’d give this book to high school graduates.

Rating

Essential            Recommended            Helpful            Pass It By

Recommendation 

Real Christian reminds you that fruit indicates the kind of tree you are (Mt. 12:33).

View-Worthy: 11.24.14

Preview

Grace in Strip Bar, Anger, Spiritual Depression, When Church Seems Meh.

Headliner

Mark Galli. Grace in a Strip Bar. (CT)

A few months ago, Christians were debating (on the Internet, where else?) to what degree Jesus is a friend of sinners, and to what degree we should be. As often happens, the debate became rancorous.

On the one hand, some wanted to protect the integrity of Jesus and the gospel. So they qualified the notion that Jesus was a friend of sinners. I read things like, “As precious as this truth is—that Jesus is a friend of sinners—it, like every other precious truth in the Bible, needs to be safeguarded against doctrinal and ethical error.”

Deal of the Day

The Promises of Grace by Bryan Chapell $1.99

Book Review

Adam Barr and Ron Citlau. Compassion Without Compromise. Reviewed by Kevin DeYoung.

Links

Jen Thorn. 5 Ways to Kill Anger.

I struggle with anger. I had no idea that this sin lived in my heart until God gave me a family. I am still having a hard time admitting this because all of my life I prided myself on the fact that I was patient and slow to anger. Turns out my patience and longsuffering were never put to the test until I had a family.

R C Sproul. Spiritual Depression: The Dark Night of the Soul.

The dark night of the soul. This phenomenon describes a malady that the greatest of Christians have suffered from time to time. It was the malady that provoked David to soak his pillow with tears. It was the malady that earned for Jeremiah the sobriquet, “The Weeping Prophet.” It was the malady that so afflicted Martin Luther that his melancholy threatened to destroy him. This is no ordinary fit of depression, but it is a depression that is linked to a crisis of faith, a crisis that comes when one senses the absence of God or gives rise to a feeling of abandonment by Him.

Gloria Furman. When Gathering with the church Seems *Meh*.

Our membership in the church will never expire. The Spirit has descended, indwelling believers and carrying out Jesus’ work. The triumph of Jesus is displayed both to the unseen realm and to the watching eyes of our neighbors as we walk in his ways of cruciform, servant leadership. May the mysterious kingdom of God grow like a garden without borders and gracefully cover the wasteland that our sin has made of this world.

Edify

Isaiah 55:11 “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty…”

“God cannot endure the contempt of his Word.” John Calvin

View-Worthy: 11.21.14

Preview

Profanity, Hypocrisy, Crumbling World, Doctor Who.

Headliner

Mark Bauerlein. In A Tight Place with Profanity. (First Things)

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do, and sometimes it isn’t. The other night I had a flight to Atlanta and was lucky to get upgraded to business class. It was late, I was tired, and lights were low. People were reading, checking their phones, watching their tablets. I leaned back and drifted into half-slumber until a voice exclaimed, “Oh man, that’s f _ _ _ in’ awesome.”

Deal of the Day

Truth in a Culture of Doubt by Kostenberger, Bock, Chatraw $3.99

Book Review

Dai Hankey. A Man’s Greatest Challenge. Reviewed by Tim Challies.

Links

Mike Leake. Preaching and Hypocrisy.

One of the most difficult things about preaching through Scripture one book at a time is that inevitably I’ll be encouraging people to be obedient in an area where I myself am not. That is the nature of preaching. We are almost always preaching above our heads.

There are times when I step into the pulpit feeling like a terrible hypocrite. The text before me is one that encourages unity and forgiveness within the body of Christ and I’m struggling hardcore to forgive a guy in the church that has wounded me.

I’ve watched as other ministers have dropped out of ministry because of the weight of feeling like a hypocrite. And I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that in darker moments I’ve entertained the thought of joining them. But at the end of the day I’m not confident that the accusation of hypocrisy stands. Nor do I believe that preaching on that which I have yet to attain myself disqualifies from ministry.

Mark Altrogge. How To Live in a World That’s Shaking, Cracking, and Crumbling.

Do you ever feel like the world is cracking and beginning to crumble?  ISIS, Ebola, changing sexual morals, disintegrating families, escalating crime, drugs, suicides….I don’t need to elaborate.  The world is shaking.  It’s passing away.  But believers in Jesus need not fear or be depressed, for God has given us an unshakeable kingdom.

E. Stephen Burnett. Doctor Who’s Doctrine: Heroes Can Be Idiots Because Love Is A Promise. (CaPC)

If you’re a Christian who wants to see popular culture in light of Scripture, you have at least considered the idea of viewing fantastical heroes as Christ-figures. After all, if a decent hero such as The Doctor of Doctor Who respects life, shows love, and sacrifices himself to save the world, doesn’t that imitate the original Hero? Shouldn’t we laud that reflection of Jesus?

But this gets more complicated when the hero does not behave like a Christ-figure should.

Edify

Revelation 2:16 “Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.”

“Scripture is the royal chariot in which Jesus rides.” Charles Spurgeon

10 Quotes from Real Christian by Todd Wilson

RealChristianThis week I’ve really enjoyed spending time with Todd Wilson’s new book Real Christian. In my opinion, it may be one of the most practical books for every believer to read. There are not a lot of books on personal spiritual living that I recommend these days, outside of some of the classics. This one is the one that I’m recommending to my friends and family this coming 2015 year. If I was a youth pastor right now, I’d give it to high school graduates.

Todd Wilson is the pastor of Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Illinois, cofounder and chair of The Center for Pastor-Theologians, and a PhD graduate of Cambridge.

This simple book follows the structure of Jonathan Edward’s classic treatise, Religious Affections. Wilson simplifies Edward’s traits of those who have religious affections for the Lord by explaining six marks of real Christians: humility, meekness, contrition, wholeness, hunger, and love. This is meant to aid each person to diagnose whether they are a real Christian.

Here are ten quotes from this outstanding book:

1. “Real is something you can see. There is a visible difference between real and not-real Christians. It’s not enough to say you’re real; you should be able to see you’re real” (19).

2. “A transformed heart is what gives rise to all the marks of real — from humility to hunger. And nothing else but a new heart can do this” (35).

3. “Real Christians are a different kind of creature, set apart from all other human beings. The difference is one of kind, not simply of degree” (44).

4. “The purpose of humility isn’t to make you think less of who you are, but to enable you to love others regardless of who they are” (58).

5. “No one endured greater injury than Jesus. Yet no one exhibited greater meekness than him” (85).

6. “Thus, contrition mirrors the paradox of the gospel as a paradoxical emotion — a pleasing pain, a glad grief, a beautiful brokenness, a weeping over who you are, even as you rejoice over who Christ is for you” (95).

7. “Real Christians are whole people who bear Christ’s full image. Their lives are morally and spiritually symmetrical” (121).

8. “Real hunger; the kind we see in Jesus, is hunger to do God’s will, which means a hunger for holiness” (134).

9. “We see him as lovely, and therefore love him. This is the foundation of genuine love for God — to love God for no other reason than because God is lovely” (153).

10. “This is the key to enjoying eternal security — entrust yourself to God. For he will preserve you and bring you safely to your heavenly home” (179).

View-Worthy: 11.20.14

Preview

Scripture Alone, Lifelong Learner, Face to Face Meetings, Planting in Highly-Churched Areas.

Headliner

Gerald R. McDermott. Why You Can’t Read Scripture Alone. (CT)

Some Christians, and not just new believers among them, take this “me and God” approach to reading Scripture. They have learned from Matthew 15 not to be like the Pharisees, whom Jesus said exalted human tradition over God’s Word. They also try to heed Paul’s warning not to succumb to “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition” (Col. 2:8, ESV used throughout). They have concluded, therefore, that Scripture teaches that church tradition—and all the perspectives and human-derived interpretations that it carries with it—should not color our reading of God’s Word.

Is that what the Bible itself teaches?

Deal of the Day

A Theology for the Church Edited by Daniel Akin $4.99

Book Review

Thomas Kidd. George Whitefield. Reviewed by Ian Clary. (TGC)

Links

David Mathis. Resolve to Be a Lifelong Learner. (DG)

For Christians in particular, the stakes are even higher for cultivating holy curiosity and the mindset of a lifelong learner. Teaching and learning are at the very heart of our faith. To be a “disciple” means to be a “learner.” Our Master is the consummate teacher, and the central task of his undershepherds in the local church is teaching (Titus 1:91 Timothy 3:25:17Hebrews 13:7Matthew 28:20). God designed the church to be a community of lifelong learners under the earthly guidance of leaders who are teachers at heart.

Erik Raymond. The Case for Face to Face Meetings. 

Technological advancements have made communication much easier. We can email, text, instant message, call, or Skype. While this makes meeting easier it does not necessarily make it better. As Christians we should endeavor to be loving in everything we do. This requires thoughtful intentionality when considering the medium for communicating information. Ease must never trump love.

In my experience, particularly in pastoral ministry, the preferred format for meetings is face to face. If there is ever a potential to be misunderstood or if the subject matter is wired with emotion then a face to face meeting is nearly essential. Here are some reasons…

Brandon Smith. 3 Reasons to Plant in Highly-Churched Areas. (Church Leaders)

In 2010, I co-planted a church with a few other men in the Wylie, Texas area outside of Dallas/Fort Worth. For the last two years, I’ve been part of a church that has planted churches in places like downtown Fort Worth. The question is often asked, “Why are you wasting your time planting a church in the Bible Belt?” This question was usually followed up with two common concerns…

Edify

Ephesians 6:17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

“Christ is the scope of the Scriptures.” Richard Sibbes

Why I Repented from Twitter Following Everyone

One sunny day in March I woke up and decided to follow everyone on Twitter. I’d like to think that I had no real reason to do it, but if I’m honest the stunt was stimulated from the base desire of wanting more followers. It was shallow. I wasn’t going to buy them because that’s just crazy. But I thought, maybe if I followed a bunch of people, they’d just follow me back. I justified it by calling the following act a wave. I told myself: “You know what, I’m gonna wave to everyone in Twitterdom and see who waves back.”

Now I didn’t just follow random people or the people that Twitter suggested. I actually did something somewhat methodical. I started going to accounts of people who followed me and people I followed and started following those people. I assumed if they were following my friends, then they might just want to follow me anyway. Then I also went to the accounts of everyone I wrote for and started following the people that followed those organizations. I assumed that these people would surely want to follow a writer that writes for that organization.

Again, I confess that this exploit was fleshly and selfish. It was all about me. I wanted more, and I succeeded. I tried to justify it by telling myself that I work so hard to write well; all I’m doing is helping people find my writing. They can choose whether they keep following. If they don’t like what they see, they can unfollow me. In reality, if the Lord wants people to find my writing, then he will show them the way. He doesn’t need my help to get that work done.

Successful Antics, But Burdened Heart

So, about now, some of you are wondering, how successful was this? You might even be wondering if it would work for you; you might just be tempted to try the same shenanigans.

Well, over the course of 90 days my followers jumped from 750 to over 3500. And this jump did not go unnoticed. One of my friends and peers jokingly texted me and gave me a hard time for becoming a sellout.

Others, observably, saw what happened to my account and employed the same methodology. They went from following a few hundred to flat out following everyone. I’m not sure if that was the competitive edge speaking to them or what. I mean, yeah, if some other guy doubles your following in a matter of weeks, you might just feel a little threatened, maybe.

Something else happened too. My following increased and so did my pride. Along with this came the heavy weight of burden, the burden of guilt. I was promoting myself, and it felt so dirty. Sure, if you’re a writer, there is a certain level of promotion that takes place. So, yeah, I tweet out my fresh posts every day and make sure my writing is accessible. But this, these Twitter antics, were beyond the acceptable level of self-promotion. I had wandered into a dark place of my soul, and I knew it.

So, as Summer drew to a close, so did my following insanity. Just as I woke up one day and decided to follow everyone, I woke up another day and repented, unfollowing everyone. Well, except the people I actually know, or actually need to follow because they influence, mentor, and are admired by me. All in all, I plummeted from following the maximum 2000 to following 350 and with that plummet came a corresponding plummet of my followers. Overall, I’ve dropped roughly 1000 followers since that time. I imagine the number will keep dropping, but I’m cool with that.

Anyway, I learned a handful of things about myself, others, and Twitter in this process. I thought I’d share what I learned from these antics, because who knows, it might help you sort some things out too:

1. Sin is sin regardless of the platform.

I operated from my flesh, and it didn’t matter if it was me talking one-on-one with a friend and being all into myself or it was me trying to generate a following in a digital universe. Anywhere ideas can be communicated, so can sin be committed. Though sin does not require the speech-act, the speech-act enables sin. In my eyes, what I did was wrong. It needed to be undone.

I didn’t have to write this article. I could have shuffled it all to the side. Just like how most of us do with our sin. We conceal it, not wanting others to see it. But perhaps my repentance will help others examine their own approach to using Twitter and compel them to think through their use of it.

Friends, sin is just as real online as it is offline. Virtual reality does not remove sin’s reality. The same penalty is still reaped.

2. People gravitate to crowds.

This is ironic. When I actually developed a big following of over a 1000 people, I noticed an acceleration of people following me. I had the perception of being important, and so people thought that I was.

The reality is no one is really all that important. It doesn’t matter who you are. And if you do the right thing long enough, speaking the truth plain enough, the crowds always disburse. That’s what happened with Jesus; that’s what still happens with his disciples today.

We’re all dust and to dust we will return. There are few people who’s work have lasting impact. When I think about Church History, I can quickly name a couple dozen. And because I have a fond affection for certain time periods I can add a few more dozen from each of those periods. But I’m like the 5% who are actually still interested in those people.

For the most part, our hard work in this life doesn’t last. If it truly exalts God and not ourselves, then it might, and that’s only because God is the one who outlasts, outshines, and outdoes all.

3. People are forgiving.

My friend that gave me a hard time, gave me an equally hard time when I repented. I took that as a sign he forgave me. He’d probably say that the whole thing didn’t matter much to him, but it did. It mattered enough for him to lovingly bust my chops about it.

Likewise, a couple other people noticed that I unfollowed them. They mentioned me and said that it was cool and they understood. Some of these people I ended up following back because I realized they were normal people not using Twitter following as a bargaining chip. They became friends, and we keep interacting.

People in general are forgiving in nature. They appreciate someone who is able to confess when they are wrong or have committed wrong.

I also wonder, if at times, people are too forgiving? If they don’t think some of these things are a bigger deal. In my case, I felt like what I did was a big enough deal for me to share it with you today. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done this. And if my decision to follow everyone and then unfollow people affected you or caused you to sin, then I ask your forgiveness.

4. What matters is what’s in your heart and where your affections lie.

I’m not convinced that following everyone is wrong and only following a few is right. Sometimes I think it can be pretentious and a sign of “cool kid” status to not follow anyone but the other “cool kids.” I consciously try not to do that. I played that silly game in high school all too well. Still, I want to have a substantive connection with those I follow. I’m not just going to follow strangers.

What really matters is what’s in your heart. I followed everyone with the wrong motive. I was trying to win at something. I was shooting for success. I erected an idol. My affection diverted around my twitter success. I know others, watching from afar, saw what I did and felt a little disappointment. Or at least I hope they cared enough to have those feelings. I’m grateful for my one friend who cheekily said something. I sorta wish others had too. I didn’t get a Twitter rebuke or admonishment like I should have. But that’s not much different from the real world, is it? I mean, when was the last time a brother or sister actually confronted your sin? It’s been too long for me. That’s for sure.

5. Trust God to extend his platform.

If you’re truly serving the Lord then you’re extending his platform, not yours. It’s his glory that goes forth, not yours. If he wishes to prosper you, then that is his will. It shouldn’t be your will to prosper yourself.

I think the battle over this truth will continue to wage in my soul. I will have to continually admonish myself: “The Lord adds and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

There are those who follow everyone and there are those who follow no one. Then there are all those who lie between. The whole Twitter following thing is definitely one of those grey areas of the Christian faith. It’s like meat sacrificed to idols. There are those who are strong in faith, who can follow everyone in good conscience. Then there are those whose faith is weak and prone to wander to self-exultation rather than self-forgetfullness. I discovered I’m one of those. I need to follow less, so that he might increase.